The most recent episode of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” racked up the body count considerably, leaving Robin Hood, Hades and King Arthur dead at the end of the hour — with Robin sacrificing himself to protect his true love, Regina, mere minutes after the two shared their hopes for a bright future together. Showrunners Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis never shy away from twisting the knife when it comes to killing beloved characters, but the episode did offer at least one ray of hope amid the darkness, with Hook unexpectedly being brought back to life by Zeus after the reformed pirate helped take down Hades, allowing him to reunite with Emma back in Storybrooke.
Regina and her sister Zelena have now both lost the men they loved, and while it seems that Zelena has turned over a new leaf thanks to her sister’s faith in her, it remains to be seen whether Regina will be able to hold on to her heroic heart now that she’s been robbed of a future with both Daniel and Robin. Variety spoke to departing cast member Sean Maguire about Robin’s death and his exit from the series.
When did you find out about Robin’s fate?
January. It gave me a little time to process that because it came as a bit of a shock, as I’d only just been made a series regular that season and moved my family up there and everything, but that was the plan that Adam and Eddy had come up with, and my job as an actor is to serve the writing, serve what’s on the page, and that’s what I’ve always tried to do to the best of my ability.
What do you think losing Robin will mean for Regina? She waited so long to find true love and has already lost so much.
Honestly, I have no idea. I tend to not speculate on the show because people think I have an insight and I actually know nothing about where these characters are going from here, because once my involvement was done, I’m already looking forward to the future and for my next challenge and my next adventure. I haven’t really spent a lot of time speculating what will happen or where the characters will go — I think Adam and Eddy would prefer to tease that their way anyway.
With all of the show’s flashbacks and other worlds, even when someone dies, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re gone – do you think we’ll see Robin again any time soon?
Very true, on “Once Upon a Time,” death can sometimes only be the beginning. But I do feel in this particular case, there seemed to be, in the writing, a little bit more finality to Robin’s death. I think they were trying to make clear that just because they can bring Hook back from the dead, it doesn’t mean that everybody who dies comes back from the dead. And you know, this was supposed to be five episodes and it turned into three years, a wonderful three years that I’ve absolutely loved. When I left “Scott & Bailey,” just before I joined this show, I remember thinking “this is sad, I’m gonna miss these actors,” and I didn’t know which show I was going on to afterwards and it ended up being “Once Upon a Time,” which happened to be one of my favorite jobs. Really because of the cast, who are so extraordinarily great and lovely — so it’s been a great experience.
What was your last day on set like?
It was a little somber; we shot scenes that were very sad. It was the last scene with Regina in the tunnel where I said that she’s my future and stuff, and when we finished, the crew were very quiet and very somber and Lana [Parrilla] and I had a big hug and there were a few tears and it was tough. But we remain friends so we will continue to see each other and hang out, it’s just the end for Robin and Regina, it would appear.
What do you hope Robin’s legacy will be?
I don’t know. I tried to stay off it, but I looked at social media this morning and the reaction seems to be quite overwhelming that people didn’t want Robin to die or leave Regina or that Regina deserved better, so I don’t know. I’m not sure what the guys have got planned; I’m sure they’ll have a good plan to make the viewers keep believing in the theme of hope and redemption, but that’s an Adam and Eddy question.
Did you get to keep anything from set?
No, I didn’t actually – I think Colin [O’Donoghue] is going to get my chair-back for me, I forgot to get that. But I’ve been doing this for 35 years so I’ve started to get a little less nostalgic about things and a bit more practical. But what I will certainly take is the friendships, and what special ones they are.
Which scene or moment were you most proud of?
There was one episode where they kind of gave Robin Hood a Robin Hood-centric episode, and it was nice to be able to have 42 minutes to actually tell a little bit of his story. The one of the things that was a little tough was that the character never really got an opportunity to get fully fleshed out or explore some of the things that were alluded to in the writing. That’s where looking at next projects, you sit down with the producers or the writers and say “what is the plan? I’d like to know what you guys intend,” but that’s difficult because sometimes the writers don’t know where they’re going to go.
Do you have any other projects already lined up?
There’s a couple of projects at the moment, but I’m not going to say too much about them because I don’t know what exactly I’m doing yet. I’m going to take a little bit of time out to be a dad and have a bit of time off, and then I will be getting straight back to it.
Are you looking Stateside or back in the U.K.?
That’s the thing, there are two options and they’re both in different directions, so it depends on all the things that come with that. It could be both, there’s a lot to work out with regards to two current projects that are on the table, but I’ll let you know. [Laughs.]